RIM scores on recent U.S. ruling over NTP patent case

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has rejected yet another NTP patent, in the midst of the company’s on-going infringement case against BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM).

The latest PTO ruling, released Thursday, is the second rejection of five NTP patents currently under review by the U.S. government, in a court case that threatens to shut down BlackBerry operations south of the border. The PTO is reviewing three more contested patents.

In 2001, NTP filed infringement suit against RIM before the Virginia Federal Court, accusing the Waterloo, Ont.-based company of using NTP’s patents on its BlackBerry technology.

NTP won a jury verdict in 2002. In March, the companies announced they had agreed to settle the dispute by having RIM pay NTP US$450 million in exchange for a perpetual license to NTP’s patents. However, the deal fell through, as RIM thought the announcement constituted a final agreement while NTP insisted the companies had never reached a definitive agreement.

The two companies are back on the negotiating table and industry observers believe they will eventually reach a final financial settlement, as shutting down the BlackBerry in the U.S. would not be in the best interest of both parties. There are over three million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide, according to RIM’s August 2005 financial report.

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